Dylann S. Roof, the teenager who killed nine African-American churchgoers in Charleston almost 19 months ago, , was condemned to death by a federal jury on Tuesday.
The jury of nine whites and three blacks, who last month found Mr. Roof guilty of 33 counts for the attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, S.C., returned their unanimous verdict after about three hours of deliberations in the penalty phase of a heart-rending and often legally confounding trial.
The guilt of Mr. Roof, who coolly confessed to the killings and then justified them without remorse in a jailhouse manifesto, was never in serious doubt during the first phase of the proceedings in Federal District Court in December. By the time the jurors began their deliberations on his sentence, it seemed inevitable that they would lean toward death, not only because of the heinous nature of the crimes but because Mr. Roof, 22, insisted on denying any psychological incapacity, called no witnesses, presented no evidence in his defense and mostly sidelined his court-appointed lawyers.
Mr. Roof, who showed no emotion as the verdict was read, will be formally sentenced on Wednesday. The decision effectively capped Mr. Roof’s first trial for the killings on June 17, 2015, the Wednesday when, after six scouting visits to Charleston, he showed up in Emanuel’s fellowship hall and was offered a seat for Bible study by the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney. Mr. Roof sat quietly, his head hung low, for about 45 minutes while the group considered the meaning of the Gospel of Mark’s account of the Parable of the Sower.
Then, with the parishioners’ eyes clenched for a benediction, Mr. Roof brandished the .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun he had smuggled into the church in a waist pouch. First taking aim at Mr. Pinckney, who was a state senator and the youngest African-American ever elected to South Carolina’s Legislature, he began to fire seven magazines of hollow-point rounds.
The reverberation of gunfire and clinking of skittering shell casings subsided only after more than 70 shots. Each victim was hit repeatedly, with the eldest, Susie Jackson, an 87-year-old grandmother and church matriarch, struck at least 10 times.
During the brief siege, the youngest victim, Tywanza Sanders, 26, pleaded with Mr. Roof not to kill. “You blacks are killing white people on the streets everyday and raping white women everyday,” Mr. Roof said during the rampage, according to a jailhouse manifesto he wrote after his arrest.
Before leaving shortly after 9 p.m., Mr. Roof told one of three survivors, Polly Sheppard, that he was sparing her so she could “tell the story.” He stepped over one minister’s bleeding body on his way out the side door, Glock pistol at his side. The killer expected to find officers waiting for him, and had saved ammunition to take his own life, Mr. Roof said in his confession to two F.B.I. agents.
Fact :He is the first person sentenced to death for federal hate crimes
Source : NYT